Exploring immunosuppression in glioblastoma via high-throughput genomic screens

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 1 October 2024.


To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for PhD Medical Studies (and select the entry point of October 2024), then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship and name the project at the top of your personal statement.
Online application
Before applying, please ensure you have read the Doctoral College’s general information on applying for a research degree.
For more information on the admissions process, please contact research.degree.admissions@plymouth.ac.uk
Director of study (DoS): Dr Mahmoud Labib 
2nd Supervisor: Dr Matt Banton 
3rd Supervisor: Professor Oliver Hanemann 
Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 1 October 2024. 

Project description

One major reason for treatment failure in glioblastoma is that tumour cells secrete several immunosuppressive factors that alter the functions of immune cells in the tumour microenvironment. Hence, a successful treatment should inhibit the secretion of these immunosuppressive factors and subsequently block the bi-directional communication between the tumour cells and their microenvironment. Identification of genes regulating cell secretion requires a combination of a genetic screening tool (e.g., CRISPR) and a high throughput secretion assay capable of sorting large number of tumour cells based on their secretion patterns. This is not feasible with existing high-throughput cell secretion approaches that typically measure target production rather than secretion. This project leverages a cutting-edge approach, referred to as SECRET (Secretion-Enabled Cell Ranking and Enrichment Technique), to enable high-throughput sorting of cells based on their secretion patterns. We will use SECRET in combination with genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 screen to identify the druggable regulators of immunosuppression in glioblastoma. Top screen hits will be selected using bioinformatic algorithms. In addition, the therapeutic utility of lead genetic regulators will be assessed through a drug screen. 


Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject or a relevant Masters qualification. If your first language is not English, you will need to meet the minimum English requirements for the programme, IELTS Academic score of 6.5 (with no less than 5.5in each component test area) or equivalent. 
NB: Priority will be given to candidates with experience in fabrication of microfluidics and/or CRISPR screens. 
The studentship is supported for 3 years and includes full Home tuition fees plus a stipend of £18,110 2023-24 (2024-25 rate TBC). The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for Home fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover International fees will have to cover the difference between the Home and the International tuition fee rates, approximately £12,697 per annum 2023-24 (2024-25 rate TBC). 
NB: The studentship is supported for three years of the four-year registration period. The fourth year is a self-funded ‘writing-up’ year 
If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Mahmoud Labib.
Please see our how to apply for a research degree page for a list of supporting documents to upload with your application.
For more information on the admissions process generally, please visit our how to apply for a research degree webpage or contact The Doctoral College at research.degree.admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.
The closing date for applications on 31 May 2024. 
Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview shortly after the deadline. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received a response within six weeks of the closing date should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.